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Leadership and the Space in Between

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We welcome guest blogger Scott Mabry, former school teacher and experienced senior executive who shares his thoughts on how we can 'bring our soul to work'.

Thirty spokes share the wheel's hub;
It is the center hole that makes it useful.
Shape the clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes that make it useful.
- the Tao Te Ching

The space between the stimulus and our response has infinite possibilities.

This is the white space between the words. The pause between the notes.

The place you could observe if you could only stop long enough to see it.

But there is much to do. Words to be said. Challenges to be met.

So we string together moments without thought. Actions without reflection.

We take the bridge we've used before and cross the void with our eyes closed.

How often have you wished to be given that space again?

To recover a careless word.

To retrieve a thoughtless action.

To resurrect a precious moment lost.

How much has passed you by, unaware?

We often think of leadership as a series of thoughts, words, emotions and actions. Little measure is given to the space in between. And why should it be otherwise? Perhaps we're missing something. Perhaps this space is profoundly important.

  • The space between offers the choice to listen or speak

  • The space between offers the choice to be open or narrow

  • The space between offers the choice to react or respond

  • The space between offers the choice to be judgmental or compassionate

  • The space between offers the choice to withhold or share

  • The space between offers the choice to be frustrated or curious

  • The space between offers the choice to connect or divide

How are we using this space in between? Do we give ourselves room to experience this space or do we operate on autopilot? Mindful leaders recognize the importance of this space and practice the power of the pause, quieting the mind, bringing thoughts and emotions into the present. The space can be small but it will give us power. Power to see and power to choose. When we create this space for ourselves we make room for others. And in that shared space, we can choose our path, together.

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